Brief Bio of Dr. Koung Nyunt
- Saya Dr. Koung Nyunt (A67) is the younger brother of U Than Soe (M63, RUBC Gold).
- Secretary of the RIT Photography Association.
- Pen name : Kogyi Koung
- Received his doctorate from Japan.
Also found his love life “Moe Moe”.
- Due to the immigration laws in Myanmar and Japan, the family finally decided to move to Auckland, New Zealand.
- Organizer for RIT events in New Zealand.
U Myo Lwin (Stanley Saw, M71) and U Kyaw Thu (Dennis Mackey, C73) were also active organizers at that time.
- Wrote articles for RIT Alumni International Newsletter.
- One article is about two Forgotten Songs from RIT.
One song is a favorite of Saya U Tha Tun (Head of Department).
Another song is about a Belle and her fans (sayas and alumni).
- Wrote a photo essay on Kyaik Hti Yo Development.
Saya U Min Wun wrote a supplement article for the Project.
- Wrote a letter to the Thagyar Min to second his favorable opinion on Naw Louisa Benson (Miss Burma and movie actress).
- Wrote about some paintings.
- Quote the poems of Reverend F Lutvig (Ashin Ananda, Laureate Poet) in his articles.
- Saya passed away, but “Moe Moe” kept contact with Daw Phyu Phyu Latt (Christine, A70) and other alumni in Australia.
Forgotten Songs of RIT
by Kogyi Koung (Saya Dr. Koung Nyunt, A67)
It was one afternoon in the early May of 1963. Someone was singing a prewar semi-classic song from the second floor of RIT main building. In 1963, RIT buildings were relatively new and that semi-classic song caused a little bit of discomfort for the freshmen [equivalent to 3rd BE] located on the first floor. The song continued as,
(. hmain: njou. njou. sain: lou. je . njou pja ji hmaung che . to: dan: kalei: nanbei: ga swe . e:di jwa be: kwe…)
The meaning is: Dull and gloomy cloud override at the horizon; Indistinct brown and dim bluish vision of a wood jetting out from that end is my village … *Note: The title of the song is ‘Htamin: mjein mjein sa: me’ i.e., “Enjoying the meal with relish” . The duet song was first performed by prewar famous singers Ou’ O: Ba Thaung and Sein Party. Later many other singers have rendered their own versions of the song.
We saw an old man singing the song while he was painting watercolor on a huge art paper. He was painting the landscape described in the song. Amazingly the picture was full of life and the song was telling the story. Everybody stopped in front of his office on the second floor and looking with wonder and singing with him.
After a while we asked him, “Sayagyi, who are you and which department do you belong to?”
He replied, “I am U Tha Tun, Head of the Department of Architecture”.
Oh, my God! How stupid that we, the freshmen of Architecture, don’t even know the head of our department. As time passed, we learned more about ‘The Great U Tha Tun’.
When we became senior students, U Tha Tun’s health deteriorated so much that Saya U Myo Myint Sein (Raymond, A58) stepped up as a ‘Kagemusha’ [Japanese for “shadow-warrior”]. UMMS, as acting head, took care of everything about the department. Young and energetic Saya UMMS found that it was not easy to steer the department as Captain of Architecture’s Flag Ship. There were lots of problems for a relatively young department in RIT.
One such problem occurred during our final year. Two of the most experienced Sayas of architecture left the department and went abroad [for enhancing their careers]. They were (a) Saya U Sein Maung (with elegant moustache) has long experience in Rangoon City Development Corporation. He taught each and every detail of the development of Rangoon. (b) Saya M.B. Raschid (son of U Raschid, minister of many affairs under Prime Minister U Nu). He taught with all his professional experience and perfect pronunciation of King’s Burmese with ‘zagaboun’ proverbs. Sometimes he corrected our broken Burmese.
Saya UMMS, Head of the department, not only had lost his right and left hand men, but also there was a danger that the notorious Koung Nyunt and Kyaw Thein (both A67) might not finish their Architecture degrees.
After a long struggle, Saya UMMS stabilized the flagship of Architecture and its direction. A pioneer of the Architecture of RIT, Professor U Myo Myint Sein handed over the headship to Dr. Maung Kyaw in early 80’s. In the late 80’s Dr. Lwin Aung (A59) took over.
For creative and original works, Architects cannot design during the office hours. It is also true [to a lesser degree] for the students of architecture. During the lectures and tutorial hours we [as students] have to follow what they have taught. After school hours [mostly after 4 or 5 pm], we start to create and test our design ideas. Note that for other students and staff of RIT, such periods are the pleasure and relaxation time.
There were only a few girls in Architecture, but the one in our studio is especially alluring beauty and glamorous face. She was so popular that she became known as the queen of the student-architects. We called her Ma Ma Q.
Most of the evenings many senior students and young eligible bachelors and/or sayas visit our studio. Some stay late into the evenings. At that time we sang a song named ‘Saga: ta’ kathou’ i.e., Language University, by Khin Yu May.
Because in the song, one part said ‘dage lar te. Ko Ko. kwe ja hmar ba lou lou’ i.e., really coming Ko Ko, out of sight he is sth in the air.
Ma Ma Q didn’t know the meaning, but the visiting Ko Kos were annoyed by our song. They politely requested us to stop singing. At that time the notorious KN and KT asked ‘hse’ kjei:’ i.e., extortion money about 2-3 kyats from the Ko Kos and went to U Chit tea shop. This continued for days and weeks.
When the Ko Kos are not visiting our studio, we sang the following song, instead of Ma Ma Q. i.e., Third Song. (Note. Extract from Shwe Kyi: nyo song by Daw Ngwe Myaing)
‘Diga nei. nya hpjin. lar ma te. so: joun ya hmar lar: akou Kja.ma ne. ne: te. Shwe kyi: nyo Shwe kyi: nyo Shwe kyi: nyo’
“To-night coming you said so, may I believe Ako.. Near the blessed golden crow, golden crow, golden crow…”
Article (from Sept/Nov 2000)
With all of those excellent works and flying colours for Saya Pu Zaw Pwe, your organizing committee is a living history of RIT. Our Sayas, Sayamas and Saya-Gyis have contributed their unlimited knowledge to affect and benefit our lives. Many of our Sayas and colleagues have sent their thanksgiving letters to your web site.
I feel guilty in staying quietly at a corner of the Southern Hemisphere. Actually I am busy, because of my article ‘Wanna Migrate to New Zealand, 3/15/00’ that you published on the ex-rit web site. After that article, I got many inquires/contacts by e-mail and direct phone calls, especially from SE Asia. In July there are 133 migrants and in September 28 migrants are now in Auckland, and expecting another over 50 in November 2000. All speak the common language “Burmese” with their own native accents. Now I know our Sayas and colleagues speak “King’s Burmese” in RIT.
I would like to honor my Sayas with a poem from our forefathers-cum-engineers how they had built a city.
Title: ‘SHWE PYI GYI’ (Golden Capital City)
Sweet sound of drums and silver bells
Coming from the Palace
Can be heard reverberating in the air
And I can see the palace roofs,
The graduated turrets and buildings
Encompassed by haze.
And, my dear girl, I can still faintly see
The silhouettes of a high pagoda
Reaching nearly to the clouds
And of super-imposed roofs (i.e., pyathat)
Oh my dear, don’t you hear
A melodious sound of small bells
Coming from the golden monastery?
Our golden capital city must be near.
(By U Ku: 1827-1895 Translated by Rev. Friedrich V. Lustig)
Dear Sayas and colleagues,
We see not only the Panoramic Photo of golden capital city of our ancient time, but can hear the sound-scape with audio-visual scene. Silhouettes effect of high pagoda in the haze has shown the air perspective of city skyline. We try to sketch the imaginary scene of ancient city in the architectural studios of RIT in the middle of 60’s. The discussion topic of ‘Ancient City Skyline’ is not only interested by the architectural students, but also from various students of other departments from RIT.
This is the starting point to form the ‘RIT Photographic Club’. According to my diary, first general meeting was chaired by Saya U Myo Myint Sein on Saturday, 1 May 1965 at the Department of Architecture. The general meeting selected Professor U Myo Myint Sein as President of RIT Photographic Club and the author as the secretary.
After forming the executive committee, the club took part in various activities and many outstanding photographers from the club took major prizes from Burma Photographic Society and Myawadi Magazine. e.g., Ko San Aung, M74 is the owner of the famous ‘Photo Lab USA’, (i.e., initials for U San Aung) in Yangon is originally from this club. Kjei: zu: tin: bar-de, many thanks for my Sayas and colleagues
Koung Nyunt (Auckland, New Zealand).
A Letter to Tha-gyar-min
by Kogyi Koung (Dr. Koung Nyunt, A67)
Date: Thursday, 14 April 2011 (3:40pm. Thin-gyan Akya-ne.)
P.O. Box; Top of the never used RIT water tower
Ashe. Jo. Koun (East Gyogone): RIT Compound, Insein, Rangoon, Burma
Dear Your Majesty the Sovereign of Tawadein dha,
As from the beginning of 1960’s our RIT is like the last paradise on earth, with all enjoyments, teachings, preaching, learning, playing sports and friendship never sails away. Kogyi Koung recollects the stories at the time of 60’s RIT and retold the fairy-tales to our Bushido-Burmans at gatherings in Auckland, NZ. However, the young generations of Maha Bandoola do not believe the stories, and they whispered by themselves that Kogyi Koung is now ‘Yin yin galay Yuu-nay-pyi-de’.
Your Majesty the Tha-gyar-min-gyi please take this message to Tawadein dha and explain to my late Sayas and colleagues there, that my stories are not fabricated.
I have the evidences. For example, I have sent a message to RIT alumni update (February 6, 2010) as follows,
Dear U Hla Min,
It is sad news for our elder brothers at RIT, especially those who reside at E and F block during the beginning of 60’s.
A term called “Ma-pyo: mashi.ja ne he.” was coined at that time. When I visited my elder brother [U Than Soe, M63] at E block (when I was at Leik-khone I.Sc). I heard somebody shout “Ma-pyo: mashi.ja ne he.” Then I looked outside. Everybody lined up at corridor and they were looking at a far side on top of the entrance hall that is attached to a two story house.
I could not believe my eyes. She was a beauty queen, who had Miss Burma two times excising physical training on the porch. I noted down in my diary and the rallying cry “Ma-pyo: mashi.ja ne he.” She is Naw Louisa Benson Craig. Now she has left our brothers’ heart at age 69.
Yours etc. (“Ma-pyo: mashi.ja ne he.”)
When I retold that story here at Auckland, everybody laughed like ‘Wa:lone kwe:aung ye kya de”. I said it is not a joke. I have evidence.
Also, Kogyi Koung explained about the following, written by Maung Maung Hla, a Karen pastor in Rangoon who was close to Naw Louisa during her youth, remembered her aloud : “She had a little mole on her cheek and she had a kind heart. She was also a very good singer.”
This statement has no evidence.
However, Tha-gyar-min-gyi if you find Naw Louisa at Tawadein dha, please ask if what I wrote is true?
Architecture Students and Staff
I have an old group photo taken about the end of 1963, and all the known information are printed. Inside the brackets are where about of the person [at the time of the post].
Top of the photo:
Department of Architecture
Rangoon Institute of Technology
1963 ~ 64
Bottom of the photo:
Front row, L to R
- Jim Lim (3rd. Year) [?]
- Ma Khin Khin Kyu (Ann, 1st.Year) [San Francisco, California, US]
- U Myo Myint Sein B.Arch (Rgn) M. Arch (Mch) [Los Angeles, California, US]
- U Tha Tun B.Sc, F.R.I.B.A. (Fellowship of Royal Institute of British Architects), A.A. Dip (Lond.), A.M.T.P.I.(Associate Member of Town Planning Institute), F.I.B.A., Head of Department [Deceased on 13 September 1974]
- U Yone Mo B.Sc (Hon) Rgn, B.Sc (Engg)Lond, A.C.G.I, A.M.I. Mech.E, A.M.I.Loco.E, Principal [Deceased]
- Mr. S. Ozhegov, Cand. Of Arch, Master of Fine Arts, UZBEK, U.S.S.R [Moscow]
- Miss Rosalind Maung (Ma Pyi Aye, 2nd Year) [Rangoon]
- Htin Myaing (Ben, 2nd Year) [New York, US]
2nd. Row, L to R
- Tun Thein (1st Year) [Los Angeles, California, US]
- Tin Aung (2nd Year) [Melbourne, Australia]
- Yaco B.E. Mayet (3rd Year) [?]
- Than Tun (3rd Year) [Rangoon]
- Sonny Chin (2nd Year) [?]
- Hla Thein (1st Year) [New York, US]
- E. I. Jeewa (3rd Year) [?]
- Aung Pa Win (1st Year) [Chicago, Illinois, US]
Back Row, L to R
- Aung Kyaw Min (3rd Year) [Rangoon]
- M. (Ku?) hlgh (2nd Year) [?]
- Than Htike (3rd Year) [Warsaw, Poland]
- William Chen (2nd Year) [?]
- C. E. Munnee (1st Year) [?]
- Koung Nyunt (1st Year) [Auckland, New Zealand, GBNF]
- Kyaw Thein (1st Year) [Deceased 22 April 2001]
- Win Myint (1st Year) [Rangoon]
- Win Naing (1st Year) [?]
1st Year B. Arch, 10 students (8 passed and 2 failed)
2nd Year B. Arch, 5 students (3 passed and 2 failed)
3rd Year B. Arch, 6 students (3 passed and 3 failed)
Several Architecture students failed in of a subject from other departments. There was no moderation. If one gets 49% or less of the grade, the student has to repeat all subjects next year.No block selected.
Editor’s Note :
I could not find the old photo mentioned by Kogyi Koung.
The early sayas and sayamas of the Architecture Department include :
- U Thar Tun (GBNF)
- Pi-thu-kar Kyaw Min (GBNF)
- U Myo Myint Sein (USA)
- U Bilal Raschid (USA)
- Dr. Maung Kyaw (GBNF)
- Dr. Lwin Aung (Retired as Pro-Rector; now Sayadaw)
- Artist/Bagyee Aung Soe
- U Maung Maung
- U Sein Maung (Stanley Ba Pe)
- U Maung Maung Phone Myint
- Dr. Koung Nyunt (GBNF)
- U Hla Than (Retired as Rector)
- Daw Min Thet Mon (Pamela Myo Min, Retired as Professor)
- Daw Swe Swe Aye
- U Maung Hlaing
- Sai Yee Leik (GBNF)